Monthly Archives: June 2016

Go Ahead – Participate!

I wish . . . (1)One of my biggest regrets is that although I have attended many
events, I rarely participate. I have spent my whole life being shy and self-conscious and not wanting to look stupid by participating. But I watch (with envy) the people who ARE participating and they are having a great time. Apparently they don’t care whether they might look dumb to others, they are more interested in having a great time.

One valuable piece of advice I received many years ago is that you will probably never see these people again, so do what you want to do (as long as it’s not illegal and no one will get hurt!). I recall that and it really does help bring me into the fun.

I think my problem was that I am not spontaneous. I’m not a to-the-minute planner, but I have to prepare myself for whatever event I am attending. I can play various more spontaneous scenes in my head for weeks, but once I get there, my brain freezes and I become an observer. Luckily, I actually enjoy observing (and sometimes observing is pretty entertaining), but I always wonder what participating would be like.

Thanks to friends, I’ve been participating more. And it is fun! Really fun! And I should have been doing it all along. So participate in the karaoke contest, dress up for the 80’s party, get up and dance, grab a friend or two and jump into that photo booth, and don’t worry about what others might think. Does that really matter? No. It’s what you think and the enjoyment you get from doing those things that matters. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

It’s Just Stuff!

story-of-stuff-06I love stuff. All kinds of stuff. But mostly stuff that reminds me of something or has a special meaning. And tons of other stuff that is really junk. It’s important not to surround yourself with stuff just for stuff’s sake. I’ve been getting better about getting rid of stuff I really don’t need (how many plastic food storage things that you can’t find the lid to do you REALLY need?). Unless you love it or it serves an important purpose, get rid of it!

When you go to a conference, do you pick up the stuff from every single vendor table? Do you really need it? If not, don’t pick it up. If you do need it and will actually use it, then take it. If you find that you don’t use it, get rid of it. Still visit the vendors–they are a very important part of every conference–but you don’t have to take their freebies.

Stuff holds you back. It really does weigh you down. Every time you see it, it reminds you that you need to deal with it. I have piles of paper to deal with and every time I see them, it makes me feel stressed and I feel like I need to add yet another task to my overlong to do list. Slowly but surely I’ll get through them and I’m sure will end up shredding the bulk of it.

Other stuff isn’t so easy to get rid of. I have a chest full of things from my childhood (do I really need report cards from elementary school or my 8th grade Algebra book (even if fellow students autographed it) or a trophy for Shorthand Student of the Year?), from my kids’ childhoods (they may want the participation ribbons from sporting events or their own report cards some day), from our wedding (seriously, why did I keep the extra napkins from our wedding in 1974?), and miscellaneous other stuff. That sounds like another task for the to do list, but 20-30 minutes should take care of it.

It’s better to keep photos of the stuff you really want to remember than to keep it in a box somewhere. Photos don’t take much physical space and will help you remember what you loved about the item without it actually being there.

Then there are the things that are irreplaceable–like your child’s artwork. Taking pictures of the artwork or actually framing the pieces that you can’t bear to part with will help you sort the stuff you really don’t need.

Do you love it and it makes you feel good every time you see it? Then keep it, display it, or put it somewhere that you can get to it when you need to. Do you love it but it makes you feel bad every time you see it? Take a picture of it and get rid of it. Life is too short for you to feel regret or sadness every time you walk into a room. Do you hate it but you keep it because your mother-in-law gave it to you? Just get rid of it. There is someone out there who would love it. If that’s not you, you don’t need to spend time dusting, moving, and feeling its presence every time you walk into that room. It is YOUR house so you can decorate it as you please. You should feel peace and love when you walk into your living quarters. If you don’t, start getting rid of the stuff holding you down. After all, it’s just stuff.

Play Hard

Time to PlayI’ve covered loving hard and working hard so it’s only fair that we talk about playing hard. It is really important that with the work and stress we are typically under most of the time to take time off. Whether that is two weeks away for a family vacation, joining a sports league, or spending a weekend communing with nature or just unplugged, it is important to find your way to play and engage in it.

In my life I have played on a volleyball league, been on a bowling league, played softball a time or two, walked in a lot of fundraising walks, and walked through Disneyland and through many landmarks in other states and in Europe.

All of that constitutes “play” as far as I’m concerned. It took me out of my everyday stressors and let me relax and enjoy playing.

If nothing else, sit out in your backyard or beside someone’s pool and read, write, listen to music, do anything but work or stay on your electronic devices. Step out of that box and turn your phone on silent or airplane mode. Just for a couple of hours. It should make you feel refreshed–at least for a minute or two–until you walk back into your stressors.

But you need something to look forward to. If you can take a trip, do it. Even if it is just driving to another city for lunch or driving to another area of your state to look at landscape different from what you are used to. And do it often. Don’t wait months to get our of your “normal.” Do it as regularly as you can.

Our children and grandchildren don’t know what it’s like to play outside all day long, to play Red Rover or tag, to play tetherball or dodgeball, to get dirty and sweaty and have some of the best times with friends ever. It’s a real shame that adults have become so overprotective that kids aren’t allowed to do any of these things because they are “too dangerous.” We need to let kids be kids and we need to be kids ourselves every once in a while.

Be silly. Have fun. Do something crazy. Get out of your own way and enjoy life for a while. It will make a difference in your work and in your home life when you take the time to play.

Even while you’re at work, have fun. At one job I had we started the Happiness Posse where three of us got together and did things for the people we worked with like passing out ice cream bars, holding a Play-Doh sculpting contest, passing a carnation out to everyone, just generally doing things to distract people for two minutes and encourage them to be happy. It was a success and people loved it. It was unexpected and always enjoyed. I was actually surprised at the entries to the Play-Doh sculpting contest because I didn’t think people would participate, but they did! And it was cutthroat competition!

Another thing I’ve done is putting together a newsletter with the happy things going on in coworkers’ lives. They send pictures of vacations, family celebrations, etc. to share with everyone else. You can’t read it and not feel the happiness (and an added bonus of getting to know the people you work with a little bit better).

You can play hard in many different ways, it’s just important to play. Life is too short to constantly work and not enjoy any of the results of your efforts. Make plans now to play–in whatever way entices you right now. I hope you have a great time and plan the next play date with yourself as soon as you can.

Say Cheese!

SayCheeseSo while yesterday’s article, Be All There, talked about putting your phone away when you are with others, the one thing you should be allowed to take your phone out for is to take pictures. One of my biggest regrets is that I don’t have pictures from some of the moments of my life. Luckily, I have friends who take lots of pictures, but I’m not very good at remembering to do it so there are a lot of things I should have pictures of, but don’t.

Pictures are important. Particularly as you get older, when your memory starts to fade or your brain is so full some memories get pushed aside (that’s my story and I’m sticking with it), it’s nice to have pictures to look back on to help you remember. Of course, storage is an issue, but with most of our pictures received electronically anyway, it’s easy to use cloud storage or a 1TB external hard drive to save important pictures.

It is also important to spend time organizing, captioning, and dealing with your photos. I have a big box sitting in my living room that I need to start going through to scan, try to figure out who and when they were taken, and then store them. If you do it as you go along, the hope would be that it will be much easier.

Pictures make an amazing gift. I have given and received calendars, ornaments, photo books, and framed pictures that mean so much more to me than a gift card would.

Pictures capture your life. It is an amazing way to keep track of all you’ve been through and all you’ve done and who the really important people in your life have been. So my advice to you is to turn the camera around so you don’t just take a continuous stream of selfies (unless you’re with a good friend in front of a cathedral in Milan) and start capturing the important pieces of your life. Even if you don’t think they’re very important right now, you will remember them later and wish you had pictures. Go out and take them!

Be All There

BeAllThereIn this age of electronics, it is one of the hardest things we have to do, but do it we must. When you are with other people who are important to you, be all there. That means put your phone away, stop playing video games for a while, just be with them. Undistracted. Interested. All There.

I found that when I went to dinner with my group of friends, I always ended up checking my phone throughout the evening–and so did they. So it was a group of people sitting around a table looking at glowing rectangular devices and the closest we were getting to good conversation was sharing something someone put on Facebook.


I decided I would put my phone away when I reached my destination and unless I was waiting for a message or needed it to schedule our next outing, I was going to leave it put away until I was leaving. The difference is amazing.

Actually having a conversation with other people is fun! You learn things about them you may not have known before and you share knowledge (sometimes without even realizing it). The best thing about conversations with good friends is that it motivates you. You want to be better, do better, live better, and spend more time with them. They are the charge to my always-in-the-red-zone battery.

We all need to be recharged from time to time and it certainly won’t come from Candy Crush or the ridiculous drama that is Facebook. It comes from human interaction. Interaction requires ACTION. You can’t just sit in a room with people and absorb their energy. You have to get to know them, talk to them, listen to them, invite them to be part of your life.

Just test it out. When you are out with your spouse, significant other, or a friend, put your phone away and leave it there. For the most part, anyone trying to get you can wait an hour or two. There are settings at least on the iPhone where you can make people VIPs and then if they try to call you something like twice in a row, it rings through, so you can figure out if your phone has something similar if you are worried about missing something really important. Here’s an article about that feature.

The problem is that back in the day, you couldn’t get people who were out with friends because their phones were at home . . . on the wall . . . with really long curly cords. Later, you could leave a message for them, but you had to wait for them to call you back. Somehow we all survived. We lived through it even though we didn’t get a response to something within two minutes. Just relax. If it isn’t an emergency, it will still be there when you’re finished. If it is an emergency, you can work on figuring out a way to receive that call.

Your friends and family deserve your full attention. They deserve to get ALL of the time they spend with you, because you never know when that time will be taken away from you. They DESERVE for you to Be. All. There.

Live And Love With Your Whole Heart


Live and Love With Your Whole HeartI saw this on Facebook today:

”I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: ‘I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.
Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever.

Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”’
~ Brené Brown

Most days I don’t read things on Facebook not posted by good friends or family that are that long, but today I needed to read it. It really does sum up what happened to me as I approached 40. That was when this lifelong people pleaser decided that if people didn’t like me, that was their problem, not mine. I was done doing things to please other people and was going to work on pleasing me.

I have to admit that I still do a lot of things to please other people, but now they are people that matter and are an important part of my life. I also have to admit that I still slip into those habits from time to time. Always wanting to be the one to “save the day,” always wanting to be the one people can count on, always being the reliable one, always being the first one with my hand up when someone is looking for help.

I heard something interesting the other day about volunteering. If you are always the one people can count on to fill an empty position and you always say “yes” because you think no one else will do it and it has to get done, you need to stop. You could be depriving someone who hasn’t yet garnered the courage to step forward from doing so. Someone who is eager to do that job, someone who will find pleasure in doing those tasks, someone who might have the time to devote to it, someone who just might be better at it than you will be because they actual WANT to do it and you are just doing it because you think people need you to. By all means, if you want to volunteer, do it. But only if you have the time and desire to do the kind of job necessary for that position. If you are only doing it because someone asked you to because no one else has volunteered or because you think it will make you (or your resume) look good, think long and hard about whether you can do the kind of work the job demands or if you will be doing everyone a disservice by just accepting the position with your head and not your heart.

I have just recently figured this out. I am always humbled when people seek me out to ask me to volunteer for specific things. But the feeling that I get when I don’t do the kind of job those things deserve is not a good one. So I have cut back. Instead of being on a committee that meets once a month and stresses me out because work conflicts and I don’t take the time to do the things that need to get done in my “free” time, I volunteer for the day of the event. One day. Actually just a few hours (early ones to be sure, but just a few). It has made a huge difference in my feeling of giving because I’m giving them a much better version of myself than they were getting before. Someone else stepped in to do the job I was doing on the committee and I’m sure made huge strides for the event.

My gifts are many but the time I have available is very limited. I am trying to keep that in mind when those well-intentioned people are seeking me out. It is working much better so far. Driving to the event telling myself that I swear it is the last time I will volunteer is not the right attitude to have when you are volunteering. Driving to the event telling myself that I am making a difference with the gift of a few hours of my time and knowing in my heart that I will do it again next year is priceless.

I am trying to be done worrying about what other people think and am moving on to the many unexplored adventures that I already have planned (and many, many more that aren’t planned yet). This crazy life truly is made to be lived and loved with your whole heart, not a distracted, overcommitted, guilty heart. So let’s make a pact to get our whole heart in gear and live and love with that sucker for as long as it is still beating. Are you in?

Work Hard

workhardToday’s piece of wisdom from nearly 60 years’ of experience is to work hard.

Work hard. That doesn’t necessarily mean work 60 hours a week for your entire career. It does mean while you are at work and getting paid for working WORK! Get off of Facebook (unless you’re researching something or actually working there), quit interrupting others and keeping them from their tasks by chatting about what you did last weekend, and get off your damn phone. (I know, now I sound like an old person and I have Clint Eastwood’s voice in my head (“get off my lawn!”).) But it’s true. Your employer is paying you to work, so you should have enough consideration and respect for them to do so. They hired you for a reason that has something to do with accomplishing goals and if you think you deserve to be paid for doing nothing to help them to that end, you are wrong. There is another person right behind you willing to actually work for the money you are being paid. Save your Facebook, chatting, and texting for your breaks.

Working hard also means learning. A job description is a list of the tasks that the person before you handled. That doesn’t mean that that is all you should ever do. Expand your expertise. You never know, you could impress the heck out of them. Learn at least one new thing every day. Learn about your company and what they do–the 30,000 foot view. Learn how each piece of your company works together to make the end product or how each person in the company works together to produce the end service. You can learn something from every single person you work with.

Working hard means showing respect. Even though I am older than 99% of the people in my firm, I show respect to them all, even the people who are younger than my kids. They are attorneys, I am not. We are all part of the team, but we also have our place. Everyone deserves respect, but if you aren’t friendly or helpful to those superior to you, or if you refuse to help out because it’s “not your job,” or if you just flat out refuse their pleas for assistance, that is not in the least bit respectful. Everyone is busy and I know that sometimes when I get 10 requests for assistance at the same time, I get a little bit overwhelmed. But once I actually look at what it is they each want and prioritize what needs to be done first, I somehow manage to get it done and then they can get on with their work. If you respect others and prove your value, guess what? They will respect you back. And respect is a wonderful thing to receive and the perfect complement to your paycheck.

Working hard means you may have to start at the bottom of the ladder instead of graduating from college and sliding into the number 2 position. You have to prove yourself and prove that you have what it takes to make it there. Remember that you can be a shining star even at the bottom of the ladder. Make it your goal to obtain a position and then make it yours. Do what you are expected to do and then . . . do more. Indispensable isn’t a word I like to use for this, but admiration, appreciation, recognition, and acknowledgment are more along the lines of what I want (did I mention I’m a Leo?).

Working hard means being part of a team. In a law firm it usually means everyone has their place on the team and the team works together toward the end goal. Sometimes, particularly when you are actually in trial or working on a deadline, everyone on the team has to do whatever needs to be done. Don’t ever be sitting down texting your friends while the boss is running the copy machine. But you could be researching or drafting something while the boss is making coffee. Do what needs to be done.

Working hard means having a career–not just a job. When you have a career, you spend time developing it. You join associations geared toward your career, you read the latest updates on trends in your career field, you become certified if that’s available in your career, you mentor others to love your career as much as you do, and you keep learning and improving yourself and sometimes, by your example, you improve others.

Just be respectful. In my long legal history, I have been fortunate enough to have really great bosses. Bosses who will stay until the project is finished even if it is 2 a.m. (although I usually send them home because I can be much more efficient at that time without them hovering). Bosses who will answer any dumb question I may have (and it’s amazing what I’ve learned from answers to dumb questions). Bosses who ask for (and listen to) my input on issues. Bosses who appreciate my “laypeople won’t understand this” comments. Bosses who don’t question most of my suggested edits to their documents anymore. But all of this is only because I have proven myself. I’ve proven that I’m interested in every document I touch, that I’m trying to make them look better, that I care what people think about them and our firm, and that this is my career and I love what I do.

You have to work for a long time, so spend it doing something you actually enjoy with people you actually like. Even working for a long time seems short in the scheme of it all. And life is far too short to spend 30 years being miserable every single day. Find what you love and do that. Don’t go into a job just because you have grand ideas of making zillions of dollars there because that’s just not worth it. If you love getting up every morning and going to work and getting a regular paycheck for doing work that you enjoy, that is what matters. Even if you don’t “love” getting up because, like me, you’re not a morning person, a job that is interesting, challenging, and fulfilling is worth much more than a boring job that you hate.

Steve Jobs said it best. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”


Learn As If You Were To Live Forever.

LearnThe next bit of advice is to learn. Constantly. Don’t ever think you’re too old, too dumb, have been out of school too long, too busy, too . . . whatever. If you want a college degree, figure out how to get it. Do you qualify for a grant? Figure out how to fill out the paperwork. Just remember that even if it will take you 10 years to get an associate degree, in 10 years you’ll still have a degree or you’ll just be 10 years older without one. Time is going to pass whether you take action toward your goals or not.

It isn’t easy! I got my associate degree over the span of 18 years while raising two little ones and working full time. But I did it!

Even if you don’t want to go to college, you still need to learn every day. And it’s much easier to do that than it used to be. With the internet, you can find blogs to follow and other information on topics that interest you. SELF PROMOTION ALERT: If you’re interested in proofreading, check out my blog at You can download and listen to podcasts on absolutely any topic you desire. Check it out on iTunes or a podcatcher of choice. If you’re completely stumped, ask me. I have podcasts that I listen to regularly during my two hour a day commute. It really does help pass the time and I always learn something. The side effect is that I don’t dwell on something that happened at work or was posted on Facebook or was in an email. I have to concentrate on what they’re saying, so I’m paying attention to that instead of the ugly voice in my head (more on that in another post).

If you don’t have time or interest in a podcast, try books, electronic books, or audio books. There are stores that sell used books, there are free ebooks, and audiobooks can be purchased through a company like Audible or you can find CDs at used bookstores or even at Goodwill. If all else fails, get a library card and borrow a real book or an audio book FOR FREE!

The thing is you should never stop learning. Look for the association for your job position and join it or at least subscribe to their publications. See if there are certifications for the jobs you do. Figure out what things you are really interested in and want to learn more about and find groups that focus on that. Want to learn to crochet? There are groups for that. Want to learn to cook gluten free? That information is all over Facebook and Pinterest. Want to learn all kinds of life hacks, YouTube is full of them. Pinterest and YouTube are two more excellent sources of learning. If you have a problem with something in your software like Word or Excel, search on YouTube and find a video to help solve it.

By all means, read for pleasure also. I am firmly convinced that children who read are children at the top of their classes and are adults I don’t mind working with. You will be amazed at how much grammar information you pick up by reading all kinds of books. It will make your writing better and when you rise to a position of authority, your staff will thank me.

There is so much information out there that you are crazy if you’re not taking advantage of it. Here’s some homework for you. Sit down with a piece of paper and a pen (or pencil). You could do this on your phone, but let’s try it this way. Start listing all the things you would like to learn more about. Now put a star or other mark beside those you are most interested in. Then turn to my good friend Google and search for information on those topics. Then search Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Periscope, Blab, and YouTube. Keep the list so you have more topics once you feel like you’ve read enough on any one topic. Think what you could learn in just 5-10 minutes a day!

As Mahatma Ghandi said “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Now don’t forget to do your homework and start learning!

Psst. Do You Have a Minute . . . or an Hour or Two?

VolunteerDo you volunteer? Are you too busy for that? Really? The satisfaction that you get from volunteering is worth so much more than catching up on bingewatching some television show that won’t mean anything in your life next week. Volunteering, however, will mean something for the rest of your life.

I have volunteered with St. Mary’s Food Bank, both on occasion with various groups loading food boxes and individually dropping a food box off to a senior citizen who needed it once a month. St. Mary’s does a phenomenal job. Seeing the food that goes into the boxes and then watching how excited a hungry person gets when they see what’s inside are humbling experiences. I throw more food away every week than some of these people have to make a meal for their family. I’m going to start spacing my grocery shopping out so less food spoils and I don’t throw it away. It really makes you think about how blessed you are in your life. Not only do you have the time to spend an hour or two on a monthly or quarterly or even annual basis, but you have the resources to get you to the location in decent clothes, decent shoes, and a car. Yes, you’ve worked hard for those things and I appreciate that, but giving up time to help others who don’t have the resources that you do will give you a new perspective of the world. Not everyone is like you. There are people who don’t get a decent meal every day, who have to rely on public transportation to get them to their job, who have retired with no benefits.

I’ve also volunteered with the American Diabetes Association here in Phoenix. They are an amazing group of people trying to raise money to find a cure for diabetes. When I volunteered, my only link to diabetes was that my dad had developed it. Until now. I was recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and used my contacts at the ADA to get great information to educate myself. They have several events throughout the year that you can participate in to raise money. Do you love riding a bike? They have the Tour de Cure. Would you rather ride a motorcycle? They have Rip’s B.A.D. Ride. Is walking more your style? The Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes is a great event. Would you rather just write a check? That would work too.

There are so many ways to make a difference outside of your world. All it takes is the desire to make a difference and a little bit of time. And it definitely WILL make a difference. The phrase that runs through my mind every time I’m volunteering is “There but for the grace of God, go I.” It so very easily could be other people volunteering to help ME! There are so many charities begging for volunteers. Find something you’re passionate about and volunteer. Not sure where to start? How about It will show organizations in your area looking for volunteers.

Spend a couple of hours using your gifts to help others. The difference you will make is quantifiable. The pleasure you will get is immeasurable. The feels are real!

Love Anyway

Love AnywayOne day closer to 60! So do I have more advice? You bet I do. Today I want to talk about love. Not just love and sex, but true love. Love is hard–all of it. Loving yourself (the MOST important love of all) is ridiculously hard. Just like they say on an airplane, you have to put your mask on before you can help others, you have to love yourself before you can give your love to others. Some people will think that you are conceited . . . love yourself anyway. Some people will bully you . . . love yourself anyway. Some people will ignore you when you are trying your hardest to be nice . . . love yourself anyway. As Dr. Seuss says “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Every single day, you are the love that matters the most. If you love yourself, you can put up with a whole lot more crap than you could otherwise. Self love is kind of like a raincoat. It keeps your love inside to keep your heart warm and lets the crap that others sling at you slide right off. It certainly isn’t easy, but it is possible.

The love of family is also important. They are the people who should be there for you no matter what. That isn’t always the case, but when it is, it is amazing. They know all your secrets (and remind you of them fairly frequently), they know every single time you screwed up (and remind you of that too), and you know that you all have things in common that matter. As unlovable as they may be from time to time, keep loving them!

Once you meet your life partner and start building a family, your love changes. The nucleus of your heart becomes your family. You would do ANYTHING for them. Even as your spouse and children get older, your worries change, but they are still there. From worrying they will fall down while they’re starting to stand, to worrying that they will get hurt playing competitive sports, to worrying when they aren’t home at curfew and you swear every siren you hear is someone racing to them, worry is a form of love. If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t worry.

And then come grandchildren. I swear I didn’t realize how much love my heart could hold until I watched the birth of my first granddaughter. As my son likes to say my heart “grew three sizes that day.” (He fancies himself quite the comedian.)

And through it all are friends. There will be much more on this topic later, but suffice it to say that I love my friends like they are my family because each of them throughout my lifetime (so far) has had a hand in making me who I am. And I kind of love that person!

Love is hard, but oh so rewarding! If you think that no one loves you, take a good long look in the mirror. THAT person is who matters most. Give him or her a kiss for me and then give him or her another one for you.

I love song lyrics and the stories they tell. There is a song that reminds me of today’s advice–Martina McBride’s song “Anyway.” If you haven’t ever heard it, check it out, and then go out and love people anyway.